Regulator of G-protein signaling (RGS) proteins potently suppress G-protein coupled receptor (GPCR) signal transduction by accelerating GTP hydrolysis on activated heterotrimeric G-protein α subunits. RGS4 is enriched in the CNS and is proposed as a therapeutic target for treatment of neuropathological states including epilepsy and Parkinson's disease. Therefore, identification of novel RGS4 inhibitors is of interest. An HEK293-FlpIn cell-line stably expressing M3-muscarinic receptor with doxycycline-regulated RGS4 expression was employed to identify compounds that inhibit RGS4-mediated suppression of M3-muscarinic receptor signaling. Over 300,000 compounds were screened for an ability to enhance Gαq-mediated calcium signaling in the presence of RGS4. Compounds that modulated the calcium response in a counter-screen in the absence of RGS4 were not pursued. Of the 1365 RGS4-dependent primary screen hits, thirteen compounds directly target the RGS-G-protein interaction in purified systems. All thirteen compounds lose activity against an RGS4 mutant lacking cysteines, indicating that covalent modification of free thiol groups on RGS4 is a common mechanism. Four compounds produce >85% inhibition of RGS4-G-protein binding at 100μM, yet are >50% reversible within a ten-minute time frame. The four reversible compounds significantly alter the thermal melting temperature of RGS4, but not G-protein, indicating that inhibition is occurring through interaction with the RGS protein. The HEK cell-line employed for this study provides a powerful tool for efficiently identifying RGS-specific modulators within the context of a GPCR signaling pathway. As a result, several new reversible, cell-active RGS4 inhibitors have been identified for use in future biological studies.
Keywords: BSA; DMSO; FCPIA; G-protein coupled receptors; GAP; GTPase accelerating protein; High-throughput screen; M(3) muscarinic acetylcholine receptor; MBP; PPI; RGS; Regulator of G-protein signaling; Small molecule inhibitor; T(m); bovine serum albumin; dimethyl sulfoxide; flow cytometry protein interaction assay; maltose binding protein; melting temperature; protein–protein interaction; regulator of G-protein signaling.